A grenade attack on a church in the Kenyan capital Nairobi claimed the life of a child, and left three other children seriously injured on Sunday. A police spokesman blamed the Sunday school attack at St. Polycarp’s church on sympathizers of Islamist militant group al-Shabab, which operates out of nearby Somalia. In what was believed to be an act of retaliation, a mob in the city suburb of Eastleigh attacked Somali residents near the church. Thirteen more people were injured in that revenge attack, according to Police chief Moses Nyakwama via BBC.
“We suspect this blast might have been carried out by sympathisers of al-Shabab,” police spokesman Charles Owino told Reuters. “These are the kicks of a dying horse since, of late, Kenyan police have arrested several suspects in connection with grenades.”
Authorities said three children were seriously injured, along with others who received minor injuries. Initial reports from the Red Cross listed six children as critical wounded.
“We were just worshipping God in church when suddenly we heard an explosion and people started running for their lives,” Irene Wambui, a church-goer who was present for the attacks, told BBC. “We came to realise that the explosion had injured some kids who were taken to hospital and unfortunately one succumbed.”
Both Nairobi and Mombasa have been struck with a series of grenade attacks in the last year, since Kenya sent troops to intervene in Somalia last year. Their UN-backed forces have been battling against al-Shabab since last October in order to help re-establish government control in Somalia. Fiften people were killed in July during raids on churches near the Kenya-Somalia border. Kenyans looking to retaliate against the violence have led to further escalation, including the drive-by shooting of radial Islamist preacher Aboud Rogo Mohammed in August.
Sunday’s attacks spurred further revenge attacks, forcing Nairobi police officer Moses Ombati to ask for peace in the area, after a group of young Kenyans attacked the nearby Alamin mosque.